Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank and Trust Co. (1930)

Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank and Trust Co.
339 U.S. 306 (1950)

Facts: New York had a statute (section 100-c) that provided for the administration of common trust funds. Those funds were formed by pooling numerous small trust estates into one fund for the purpose of investment administration. The accounts of the common fund were to be settled from time to time by a judicial proceeding called an accounting; beneficiaries of the constituent trusts (some of whose interests, names and addresses were known to the corporate trustee and others not) were to be notified of the accounting by publication. Central Hanover set up such a common fund; and that the first accounting, Mulane, special Guardian and attorney for persons known or unknown who might have an interest in the common trust fund, objected that, notice by publication was constitutionally inadequate.

Issue: Is notice to parties residing out of state by newspaper publication adequate when the parties addresses are known?

Holding: No.

Analysis: Notification by publication was adequate for the unknown trust beneficiaries but inadequate for the known beneficiaries. The means of notification employed must be such as one desirous of actually informing the absentee might reasonably adopter account which it. The reasonableness and hands the constitutional validity of any chosen method may be defended on the ground that it is in itself reasonably certain to inform those affected … or, where conditions do not reasonably permit such notice, but the form chosen is not substantially less likely to bring home notice than other of the feasible and customary substitutes.

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